So You Wanna Be a Famous Mosaic Artist?

acrobat fence in steel and mosaic tile

One of the most frequently overheard statements at art fairs and galleries is “I could do that” or, frequently, “my kid could do that.”

Well, hey, most of the time it’s true. You or your kid could probably do that. All you need to do is spend the time, buy equipment and supplies, and set aside a space to work. That’s how I started… I made my first mosaic shortly after moving to Chicago to pursue an arts career with mixed media collage and sculpture. I had no real intention of making mosaics a primary focus in my work— I just wanted a dining room table.

A copy of JoAnne Locktov’s book, The Art of Mosaic Design: A Collection of Contemporary Artists provided examples of work by other artists. I asked a few questions, made a few trips to Home Depot for tools and supplies and started right in. As I began working with tile, all kinds of possibilities came to mind. My exploration of new ways to use mosaic led to tile mosaic wind vanes, fences incorporating mosaic, an amazing altar I built for Marilyn Houlberg and mosaics combining Italian glass with bottle caps.

Five years after that first table, the Acrobat Fence shown above was selected for publication in JoAnne’s most recent book on mosaics: Mosaic Art and Style: Designs for Living Environments. The acrobat fence was my first project using steel and tile. Since then I’ve made a series of curved garden fences which tell the story of a couple’s life together and a set of fence sections based on a window design by Frank Lloyd Wright.

If you’re interested in mosaic, I highly recommend all of JoAnne Locktov’s books. Whether you’re looking for inspiration in your own work or just wish to survey the current state of the art, she provides great examples of classical, folk and innovative approaches to the form. Every time I pull my copy out and leaf through it I find myself quickly drawn to the studio with fresh eyes.